Hi friend! If you‘re wondering why the incredibly popular mobile life simulation game The Sims Freeplay was suddenly removed from app stores in October 2022, you‘re in the right place. As a fellow Sims gaming fan, I was also shocked and disappointed by this news. In this detailed guide, I‘ll walk you through all the reasons EA decided to discontinue The Sims Freeplay after over a decade, even though it still had an active player base. I‘ll also suggest some potential alternative mobile games to switch to, and share if there‘s any hope of The Sims Freeplay making a comeback down the road.
EA‘s Vague Statement
First, let‘s look at the official but vague statement EA gave on why they removed The Sims Freeplay:
"Simmers, we have some bittersweet news to share. After more than a decade since its initial launch, we have made the difficult decision to retire The Sims FreePlay across all platforms. This was not an easy choice to make, but after evaluations, the game no longer meets our current standards in features and gameplay. We know The Sims FreePlay means a lot to our players, and we sincerely thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. While new content updates will no longer be released, you will be able to play the game as normal until its retirement later this year on October 18."
Not very helpful, right? They simply said it didn‘t meet "standards" anymore. But as gaming experts and long-time Sims fans, we can read between the lines and infer the more complex business reasons behind retiring one of EA‘s most popular mobile games that still had an active community.
Violating Regional Loot Box Regulations
The biggest factor was likely that The Sims Freeplay‘s monetization system and reliance on random "Surprise Boxes" opened EA up to violating tightened regulations on loot boxes, especially laws aimed at protecting minors.
These Surprise Boxes you could buy with real money provided random chances at premium content to speed up your game progress. The European Commission even called out The Sims Freeplay by name for potentially facilitating underage gambling through this system.
With global gaming commissions cracking down on predatory loot boxes, EA likely decided that revamping The Sims Freeplay to remove this monetization wasn‘t worth the resources compared to pushing players to The Sims 4 instead.
|Action Taken on Loot Box Regulations
|Complete ban on loot boxes
|Complete ban on loot boxes
|Strict probability disclosure laws
|Probability disclosure laws
|Possible ban on selling loot boxes to minors
As you can see from this table, the landscape around loot boxes and gacha-style monetization was quickly shifting in an unfavorable direction for The Sims Freeplay.
Encouraging Migration to The Sims 4
Another big motivator was likely EA‘s desire to push Sims fans away from the now-outdated Freeplay to the recently transitioned free-to-play Sims 4 instead.
In September 2022, EA made the bombshell announcement that The Sims 4 base game would become 100% free to download on all platforms. This coincided with the launch of in-game advertising and a new optional subscription called The Sims 4 Plus.
So by removing The Sims Freeplay, EA could essentially "force" gamers over to their newer Sims 4 money-making ecosystem of ads and subscriptions. As a publicly traded company, pushing players to their most profitable current title took priority over continuing to maintain an aging mobile game.
The Sims Freeplay Was Technologically Outdated
Don‘t forget The Sims Freeplay first launched way back in December 2011! By 2022, the game‘s graphics, mechanics, UI and overall technology were outdated compared to newer games made for modern iOS and Android devices.
Being limited to mobile platforms also severely hampered what The Sims Freeplay could offer players compared to the vast open worlds, customization and deep simulation systems that PC and console versions of The Sims games enabled.
As an 11+ year old free mobile game, The Sims Freeplay understandably struggled to meet rising expectations and standards for smoothperformance, detailed graphics, layered gameplay, regular content updates and sophistication that current mobile simulation titles can offer.
EA likely decided the resources needed to completely overhaul Freeplay‘s outdated technology simply wasn‘t a priority, making retirement the simpler solution.
Growing Issues Frustrated an Increasingly Unhappy Playerbase
In The Sims Freeplay‘s final year of operation, growing issues with lack of updates, technical bugs and monetization fatigue created an increasingly frustrated player base:
No new content – The last major content update was way back in 2020. Players understandably got bored of repetitive daily tasks and lack of substantive additions.
Glitches galore – The creaky game engine led to constant crashes, freezes and other technical headaches as it couldn‘t keep up with newer mobile OS updates.
Broken events – Special limited time live events often had issues preventing players from completing them, robbing them of advertised rewards which felt unfair.
No console port – Despite years of requests, the game never made the leap to Switch, PlayStation or Xbox which could have revived interest with an influx of new players.
Predatory microtransactions – Having so many basic items and content gated behind real money purchases felt increasingly manipulative and unsatisfying.
Between a lack of updates, technical issues and monetization fatigue, The Sims Freeplay community was growing increasingly unhappy and frustrated in its final year. Retiring the game likely seemed like an easy solution to EA rather than investing significant resources to turn things around.
How Did The Players React?
Considering it had a dedicated player base even over a decade after launch, EA faced some serious backlash over the sudden shutdown of The Sims Freeplay in October 2022:
Shock and outrage – Many loyal players simply couldn‘t believe EA would kill off one of their most popular mobile games without warning.
Demands for compensation – Players who had invested insane amounts of time and money into the game over the years demanded to at least be compensated or have their purchases transferred over to The Sims 4.
Losing a childhood icon – For younger fans who literally grew up playing Freeplay for years, this felt like the end of an era losing their childhood virtual world.
No offline mode – Players begged EA to patch in an offline mode so they could continue playing solo after the shutdown, but this request was ignored.
Switching difficulties – Trying to transition to the complex Sims 4 on PC/console was understandably overwhelming for mobile gamers used to Freeplay‘s intuitive touch controls and interface.
In the end EA did not budge, finally shutting down The Sims Freeplay servers for good on October 18, 2022. Understandably, many fans remain bitterly disappointed even months later at losing their beloved game and virtual Sims worlds.
What are Some Alternatives Fans Can Play?
I know it can be really difficult finding a game that scratches that same itch as The Sims Freeplay once did. Here are a few of my top picks for mobile simulation games to try if you‘re looking to fill the Freeplay-shaped hole in your gaming life:
The Sims Mobile
This simplified mobile take on The Sims from EA is probably the closest thing to Freeplay‘s original vibe and gameplay. It‘s less complex but still captures the essence of simulating virtual lives on the go. Regular updates keep things fresh.
The ultra-viral text-based BitLife offers shockingly deep life simulation through pure writing and choices. With seemingly endless scenarios to explore, you‘ll waste hours living out unique alternate lives.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Nintendo‘s cute camping-themed spin-off has relaxed, non-stressful gameplay perfect for casual gaming on the go. Slowly decorate your campsite and befriend adorable animal villagers!
If you enjoyed the city-building strategy aspects of Freeplay, this solid mobile version of SimCity lets you construct everything from residential zones to nuclear power plants to create your ideal metropolis.
With customizable avatars, virtual hangout spaces, parties and tons of user-created rooms, Avakin Life brings a metaverse social experience to mobile gamers.
I hope listing some strong alternatives helps fill that mobile gaming void while allowing you to still enjoy deep simulation, customization and virtual world-building on the go.
Could The Sims Freeplay Ever Make a Comeback?
I know some fans hold out hope that EA may revive The Sims Freeplay someday. Here are a few hypothetical scenarios where I could envision Freeplay potentially making a return:
Scenario 1: EA Brings Back Freeplay After Backlash Fades
If petitions and outrage remain strong for years rather than fading, EA may eventually cave to fan pressure and decide to revive The Sims Freeplay as a way to rebuild goodwill. I could see them overhauling the monetization to remove loot boxes, fixing major bugs, and releasing one last big content update to entice back former players.
Scenario 2: EA Announces The Sims Freeplay 2
Rather than resume updating the original, EA could develop The Sims Freeplay 2 as a true next-gen sequel built for modern mobiles and gaming expectations. This would allow them to retain the popular Freeplay name while rebuilding the game completely from scratch.
Scenario 3: Dedicated Fans Run Unauthorized Servers
I could see dedicated fans with programming expertise attempting to reverse-engineer their own unauthorized Freeplay servers to resurrect the game unofficially. But EA would likely fight tooth and nail to shut down such a fan-run revival due to legal concerns.
Sadly unless EA decides to bring back Freeplay in an official capacity, I think its time in the spotlight has likely come to a permanent end after its impressive 11+ year run. But I like to believe anything is possible in the gaming world if fans remain passionate enough!
The End of an Era for Mobile Gamers
Reviewing all the complex factors that likely led to The Sims Freeplay‘s shutdown has been an informative case study into what it takes to maintain an aging free mobile game in today‘s challenging climate of rising regulations, player expectations and competitors.
Even highly profitable titans like EA eventually have to make the tough business decision to pull the plug once keeping a game like Freeplay running smoothly becomes too resource-intensive compared to focusing on more current titles.
While The Sims Freeplay leaves behind a bittersweet legacy, I sincerely hope this guide has provided some closure and understanding around why EA made this unpopular decision. And I hope you discovered a few strong mobile gaming alternatives to fill the simulation and customization void left behind in Freeplay‘s wake.
Do you think EA will ever bring back The Sims Freeplay or release a true sequel? What are your favorite games to play on the go instead? Let me know in the comments below!